The Swerve

The Swerve

[how the World Became Modern]

Audiobook CD - 2011
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In this work, the author has crafted both a work of history and a story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it. Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius, a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions. The copying and translation of this ancient book, the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age, fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson.
Publisher: Prince Frederick, MD : Recorded Books, p2011
Edition: Unabridged
ISBN: 9781461838227
Branch Call Number: CD 940.21 GRE
Alternative Title: How the world became modern


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Sep 08, 2014

The focus is the first century BC work of Lucretius Carus titled "The Nature of Things". Lucretius -- seemingly prescient of what would be discovered by 20th century modern science -- describes an earth and universe composed of atoms moving about at random. And besides the atoms, empty space. He refers to it as "the void". The implication is that whatever happens is due to the random nature of the atoms, rather than divine intervention. As might be expected, the powerful in medieval Europe preferred this subject remain un-discussed. Which -- until 1417 -- wasn't a problem, as the work was thought to be lost forever to the vagaries of time. How the last remaining manuscript was re-discovered and rescued from certain oblivion by the classics book-hunter Poggio Bracciolini is the main theme of this book. Well researched by the author, and well narrated; it's definitely worth a listen, especially for those interested in ancient philosophies.


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